After doing your best to choose the proper toy for your companion bird (See: Choosing the Right Toy) the next step is introducing that toy. Each bird is unique and some birds will accept new things in their environment more quickly than others. The following is a list of ideas to help you to get your bird to play with his wonderful new toy you put so much effort into choosing:
- Often a bird may be fearful or intimidated by having new items put directly into his cage. If this is the case with your bird, try hanging the new toy on the outside of the cage at first or on his play gym.
- Try hanging the toy in the lowest part of the cage, out of the way, so he can investigate at his own pace.
- Try placing your bird’s favorite toy next to the new one.
- Try a desensitization technique. Begin by having the new toy nearby when you are with your bird so he can see it and have you there for emotional support. Gradually, over several days, move the toy closer to you and your bird until you can touch it from where you are sitting. Begin to calmly touch the new toy, playing with it’s individual components, showing your bird how much fun it will be to play with.
- Be patient with your bird and give emotional support. Practice empathy and understanding to visualize just how scary this new thing may be to your bird.
- Accept your bird for who he is and try not to get frustrated with him because he is being “unreasonable” about this new thing in his environment. Even though you can’t understand why it is so frightening, to your bird it is and that is what matters.
- Always keep sessions short and end on a positive note. You will know you are making progress when your bird seems more comfortable around the new toy.
- The more you fuss over and play with the new toy the more curious your bird will become and want to join in the fun.
- Hand toys are among the safest and are great for young birds and getting a more timid bird used to playing with toys.
Do not assume that if your bird doesn’t play with a toy he will not play with any toy. Try something different, observe your bird and see what textures he likes to chew or play with (See: Choosing the Right Toy). Introducing a new toy or getting a timid bird to play with toys may take time and patience. However, chewing and playing are vital to preventing boredom and providing your bird with a great quality of life. Good luck and above all else, have fun!